Disclaimer: An American Ghost Story is not to be confused with other “American” stories of the nightmare, horror, etc. variety. It is its own sheety thing.
Premise: An author and his wife move into a reportedly haunted house in order to write about the experience. The house looks to be a very frightening mid-century ranch and then sheet happens (not a typo).
To the list of spoilage:
- The beginning of this film features housework being done to very ominous music. I hate housework as well, but there’s nothing significantly horrible about making a bed, or folding clothes. The scary part is how long the credits go on…this should have been my first signal to turn off the film and walk away. So slow-paced! SO SLOOOOWWW!
- Writer, henceforth referred to by his dominant characteristic, the wearing of a Grey T-Shirt, asks his girlfriend to look at photos of a deceased kid’s bedroom and recreate exactly as it was because that will somehow draw out the ghosty. I will admit that that is creepy (the effort it takes to recreate a dead kid’s room exactly, not the ghost itself). Writers! At least Grey T-Shirt’s friend tells him that it’s a little sick. His girlfriend thinks it’s fine though. Although she is confused about why he wants to write about the creepy house they moved into. That’s the confusion? THAT? Be worried that he’s going to chop you up and use you for ghost bait in your sh*&tty rental murder house, not that he’s going to write a paranormal non-fiction book.
- I seriously have my TV MAXED out on volume and I can’t hear a thing being said. What is with the sound in this film? And who was asleep on the continuity front when it suddenly turned from an inside daytime view to an outside nighttime one?
- Girlfriend is easily scared. She’s showering and hears a thump and is all “This isn’t funny, Paul!” My husband once snuck into the house and bathroom, flipped off the lights and as I was cussing about the bulb burning out he crouched onto the floor, put his arm under the shower curtain and grabbed my leg. That earned him an “eep” and a cussing. She nearly pees herself (at least she’s in the shower) from a distant thump sound? She is not going to last. She’s also a really bad actress. She actually put her fingers up to her mouth in a “jeepers, I’m scared, so I’m going to gnaw on my f%@king knuckles” gesture. I can’t decide if she studied at the Obvious School of Cliché Acting, or at the Scooby Doo School of Being Creeped Out (Yoinkes!) . If she had bitten her fingernails and knocked her knees together she’d have won an Oscar for this. Two days in and she’s all, “I can’t stay here anymore. Let’s break up.” This is followed by her never being mentioned again. She disappears from the film entirely. That’s fine, I was tired of looking at her, but I can’t help but wonder what did she think would happen? Fun ghost romps? I think she confused the ghosts of a murdered family with a Casper the Ghost musical adventure. Speaking of which, how did Casper die? He’s a kid ghost. That’s depressing! Auuugh! I bet he died of some horrible childhood disease and his family was devastated. Or he was sold by an orphanage into child labor camps…it was 1939, after all when he kicked it. This movie is so boring and contrived that I’m rambling. And I want a cheese sandwich. Poor Casper! Do we have any cheddar in the fridge?
- Oh, there’s a haunted basketball? This is a sign that the Harlem Globetrotters should be called in. They do have a lot of experience with ghost-hunting from their Scooby Doo days.
- Why do ghosts like to open drawers? What are they looking for? “Where is that potato peeler?” “Who forgot to sort the salad forks and the dinner forks?” “Where is the flashlight?” “Who do you have to kill around here to find an ink pen that works?” “Why is your underwear drawer so messy?” “Where is the extra phone charger?” “I need a Phillip’s head not a flat head.” SLAM! SLAM! SLAM! Don’t go through other people’s drawers…I don’t care if you are living or dead. It is both rude, and a horrible ghostly cliché.
- This movie was made in 2012, so why is Grey T-Shirt using AOL? “You’ve got mail!” Better look at that mail Grey T-Shirt! I bet it is an offer from a Nigerian Prince and an update on comments from your GeoCities page.
- There seems to be some undeveloped and unremarked upon sexual tension between Grey T-Shirt and his best friend whom I shall refer to as Cool Dude.” Their lingering looks are kind of hot, and they have way more sexual chemistry than Grey T-Shirt and Disappearing Girlfriend had. Too bad their Brokeback Ranchhouse affair never panned out; I would watch the sheet out of that.
- Day 31: halfway through the film and pretty much nothing has happened, other than the girlfriend moving out because some drawers were opened, the budding romance between Cool Dude and main character being established in my head, and the landlord being annoyed that Grey T-Shirt is dragging up bad history.
- Day 47: something happened, a wind up fire breathing nun toy walked across the kitchen, and a teddy bear showed up on his bed random-like…TERRIFYING! Wait, not terrifying, cute. If something dire is going to happen in this film we need a better set up as viewers. I wish that cute ghost crap would happen at my house. Adorable ghosties! Awww! Shnoogin-boogin. Maybe it is Casper?
- Day 77: Whining! Grey T-Shirt complains to cool guy that nothing is happening in the house…oh, Grey T-Shirt, I know! I too wish SOMETHING would happen. And yet…boo.
- Ghosts wear actual freaking sheets over their heads in this movie. Sadly, there are no mouth and eye holes. BOOOOOOO! Ah erm a Shpuurky Gherst! Be askert, Grey t-shirt!
- Interview with former tenant reveals that the ghosts really love sheets. What is with the sheets? It makes sense if it is a burial shroud, but these are probably 300 count cotton sheets. Side note, I hate flannel sheets. I would not wear a flannel sheet if I were a clichéd and unimaginative ghost, it would be 2000 thread count Egyptian cotton or nothing!
- On rare brief occasions in this film there are interesting camera angles and effects, but they are quickly undone by stupid dialog, wooden acting, pacing and a bad sound track. I think the cinematographer was way better than this film deserved.
- OHO! The sheet comes into play big time in the “dramatic” confrontation! Apparently one can use a sheet to locate ghosts just by throwing the sheet over their ghost heads. Very clever, Grey T-Shirt. But how can the ghost see through the sheet to chase him if there are no eye holes? Wouldn’t it be flailing about randomly like “woooaaaah!” instead of precisely targeting items around the room to throttle Grey T-Shirt with?
Conclusion: Holy sheet, this movie! Seriously. It isn’t bad for something produced on a budget of tens of dollars, and starring a cast and crew of 12 people, but that’s not saying much. I think someone might dig this and call it a “slow burn” or applaud how well it did with so little, or something like that. I disagree. I think it seems like an anti-sheet industry propaganda film. BURN THE SHEETS! ROLL AROUND ON YOUR BARE MATTRESSES LIKE AMATEUR PORN STARS!
All in all, I am left still unsure as to what makes this an “American” ghost story. Is it that the “haunted house” was a stucco ranch rental? There is a remarkable shortage of stereotypically “American” things in this film…it could have happened anywhere, or even Canada (I’m just teasing, Canadian bretheren and sisteren…you know I love you).There is nary a can of Coca-Cola, cheeseburger, flag or gun to be seen. I wish the ghost had worn a Coca-cola sheet , a ten-gallon hat, and shot up in the air while waving an American flag…alas. The good news is that if you rent this movie you will get your money’s worth, I felt as if I had been watching for days, instead of just an hour and a half; that is impressive, don’t say it isn’t.